CMS Releases Nursing Home Staffing, Census Data to Help States Make PPE and Testing Decisions

Apr 30, 2020 | CMS' PBJ Policies

PBJ Data Used to Help Facilities During COVID Emergency

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS began to respond by issuing emergency blanket waivers of reporting requirements and adjusting the Nursing Home Compare ratings postings so that facilities can focus on responding to the pandemic rather than compliance reporting.

For staffing, the PBJ data set was put to work to help quantify how much PPE is needed per facility.


CMS Releases Nursing Home Staffing, Census Data to Help States Make PPE and Testing Decisions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday released a public database of staffing and resident counts for nearly 15,000 nursing homes, with the goal of potentially helping states make more informed decisions about the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using fourth-quarter 2019 data from the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system, CMS compiled a spreadsheet that includes a variety of staffing information about each facility, including average daily nursing headcount, average daily overall staffing totals, the number of certified beds, and the average resident census.


Spanko, Alex. “CMS Releases Nursing Home Staffing, Census Data to Help States Make PPE and Testing Decisions.” Skilled Nursing News, 24 Apr. 2020,


CMS Offers New Updates on COVID-19 Impact on Nursing Home Compare, Five-Star

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a memo (QSO-20-28-NH) with updates on Nursing Home Compare (NHC), Five-Star Quality Rating System, public staffing information, and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Included in the new information, CMS said it will temporarily hold constant the inspection domain of Five-Star to prevent an unequal impact on the rating for those facilities that receive a survey during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. This freeze will begin with the scheduled Nursing Home Compare update on April 29, 2020.

In other developments, CMS said it will use Payroll-Based Journal staffing data to publicly report the average number of staff on site at each nursing facility each day (both nursing staff and total staff) and will also post aggregated data at a state and national level. The publicly posted information will include all staff listed in section 2.3, Table 1 of the PBJ Policy Manual, AHCA/NCAL said.


Connole, Patrick. “CMS Offers New Updates on COVID-19 Impact on Nursing Home Compare, Five-Star.” Provider Magazine, 28 Apr. 2020,,-Five-Star.aspx


CMS to use staffing data to assess PPE needs; freezes star ratings

Providers’ staffing totals will be used to address their personal protective equipment needs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new memo from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In addition money collected from fines will pay for tools that will help residents communicate with their families during the pandemic lockdown.

CMS announced the moves late Friday afternoon, explaining that it will be publishing a list of the average number of staff members onsite at facilities each day. The information will be used to direct adequate PPE and testing to nursing homes.

The agency also is now waiving timeframe requirements for submitting resident assessment data (Minimum Data Set) and staff data (Payroll-Based Journal) by certain deadlines. The waivers won’t impact the updates to the quality measures and staffing domains being used for the April update on the rating system, which is set for Wednesday.


Brown, Danielle. “CMS to Use Staffing Data to Assess PPE Needs; Freezes Star Ratings.” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, 27 Apr. 2020,

Related CMS and PBJ Resources

To learn more about the details, policies and information in these articles, please review these CMS and PBJ publications.

Five Star QRS Technical Users' Guide for Care Compare

Technical Users' Guide

FAQs for PBJ Policy Manual

Emergency Blanket Waivers